Your creative staff may be perpetually asking one mysterious question in your meetings: What makes content go viral? The answer to that is perhaps changing while you read this, even though it might be possible to find some generalized answers that can set you on the right foot to create better content. It’s true that excellent content is really the driving force in how successful websites become. No matter how many trendy special effects you have on your site, no one will stick around if the content there isn’t worth reading or watching.
In some companies, the writers and other creatives who put together good content may not be appreciated enough in what they do. But what can you do to assure that something will at least have the fundamentals in place to be shared across the broad spectrum of social media?
Is Emotional Content Still Capable of Going Viral?
The New Yorker did a piece recently that showcases the evolution of what makes a piece of content go viral. They examined the role of emotional content (meaning sad or funny) as being one of the hallmarks of people sharing an article or video across the social media spectrum. It usually has to be something with a provocative title, even if it usually falls short if the actual content doesn’t live up to the title.
In the New Yorker piece above, it’s noted that despite emotional pieces usually never failing to go viral, the overly sad ones are starting to be usurped by happier emotional stories. When you can create a story with a sad back story and a happy outcome, you tap into the feeling of vicarious vindication that people find fulfilling. With so many bleak stories out there of tragic outcomes, it’s become a new and lucrative content market.
Stories that create anger, though, are perpetually hot and can create a groundswell when it’s a topic about government inefficiency or a fleecing of innocent people. When you can light up the comment section with passionate comments, it not only gives you viral potential, it could also incite action that changes the direction of something important.
Regardless, is the era of emotional content going viral becoming too much of a standard? We could be looking at everyone doing the same and canceling each other out to make room for something new.
Other Content with Viral Potential
It seems content that makes people feel smart or has practical usage are some of the secret weapons in going viral. That sense of getting everybody in the know about a topic and having it bring practical awareness creates a powerful recipe when mixed with emotion. Regardless, now that everyone knows how emotional content compels people to click links, is content going to have to become more provocative once emotional content becomes overcrowded?
The New Yorker above already shows some evidence of this happening on some popular sites. If you look around the net, overly shocking titles are starting to pop up and usually in your social media stream.
As one method cancels one another out, something else is going to take its place that isn’t expected yet. Whether it’s overly provocative stories or ultimately something else, anything with emotion, passion, and inspiration has a better chance of being shared by thousands than if it’s overly buttoned down.